United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz said Friday that progress is being made on finding a basis on which Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) can work to solve their ongoing name dispute.

Mr Nimetz followed his visit to Skopje, the FYROM capital, earlier this week, with a one day visit to Greece for a round of talks concerning the dispute.

After meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Nimetz said he informed the Greek side of his consultations in Skopje as well as his own thoughts regarding the process of solving the issue.

The UN special envoy reported he found that he had found a ‘positive attitude’ in Skopje towards making progress on the issue and arriving at a solution.

“I believe we can arrive at a solution,” he said in response to questions, but declined to comment on how soon that might happen.

Greek sources say that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou repeated the government’s commitment for resolution of the name dispute within the UN framework.

Mr. Nimetz met with alternate Foreign Minister, Dimitris Droutsas who reassured him of the Greek government’s intentions to resolve the name dispute on the grounds of solution that will respect both sides. He also met with the main Opposition leader, Antonis Samaras.The dialogue with Mr Nimetz was was described as being “…very good, open and honest, “ according to Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras.

The Greek Foreign Ministry spokesperson said it was hoped that “the positive message of Greece is beginning to be understood and positive changes could ultimately reach the negotiating table.”

Delavekouras made specific reference to Greece’s recent initiatives, such as a meeting between Papandreou and FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski that “created a dynamic process.”

Mr. Delavekouras told reporters that while Mathew Nimetz said he “had seen” intention on the part of Skopje to move the issue ahead, the Greek government wants to see their good intention being matched by deeds.

“We hope that indications for positive changes will be transferred to the negotiations table,” he said.

FYROM and Greece remain locked in a 19-year dispute over the use of the name of Macedonia.

The European Union in December postponed a decision to grant Skopje its much desired date for start of its accession talks due to the unresolved name issue.

The EU is now pressing for a solution to be found in the first half of this year so that Macedonia can proceed with its EU and NATO entry bids. In 2008 Greece blocked FYROM from entering NATO over the same dispute.